Brother of murdered man fights to stop killer wife getting his pension
The brother of a man murdered by his ex-wife is trying to stop her receiving his one million euro pension pot on her release from prison.
Tanya Doyle was jailed for life for stabbing her estranged husband Paul Byrne more than 60 times at their home in Tallaght on September 4, 2009.
His brother Noel said Doyle is eligible to apply for parole in two years and, if released, will be able to pick up his pension – which could be as much as €1m.
“The tragic thing is if she was given parole in two years time she could walk out of prison with €200,000 in her pocket,” Mr Byrne said.
His case mirrors that of the family of Celine Cawley, whose husband Eamonn Lillis is set to walk free from prison this week with €1.3m in his bank account.
Mr Byrne said it makes his stomach turn that the law allows convicted killers to benefit financially.
“After her been convicted for murder, under the circumstances that she was, to turn around and think that the pension company has absolutely no alternative but to pay her even though she was convicted of murder by 12 of her peers,” he said.
Read more: Tanya Doyle found guilty of husband’s murder
Mr Byrne told RTE Radio’s Liveline that his brother and Doyle had been estranged for quite some time before the killing and were going through a legal separation, which was due to be finalised.
“She had come back to Ireland and had been living in the same house... under the same roof for a few months before it happened,” he said, adding that they were living in separate rooms.
“On the Wednesday or Thursday before he died a set of carving knives was bought in one of the stores in The Square in Tallaght and they were used to inflict the wounds that caused his death.
“He was stabbed over 60 times. His vital organs were punctured. Even one of them would have been sufficient to kill him.”
Paul Byrne, a reputable engineer with RPS, bled to death and his final nine minutes of life were recorded on a call he made to emergency services.
His brother told Liveline that it had been “very traumatic” listening to the recording, which was played to the jury in Dublin’s Central Criminal Court.
“It was horrific for the jury and anybody in court who had to sit there and listen to those nine minutes during the trial,” he said.
He said Doyle did not know the call was being recorded and that she ignored his brother’s pleads for his life and an ambulance.
“When she found the phone there was one expletive made as she hung up the phone, which was rather ironic,” he added.
Despite claiming she was insane at the time, Doyle was convicted of murder in March 2013 was jailed for life. The term was back dated to her arrest in September 2009.
Paul Byrne’s pension with RPS is held by Friends First.
RPS said the pension scheme trustees have sought to get the law updated to address the issues the case raises.
A spokeswoman for Friends First said: “The situation, as outlined by Noel Byrne is complex and Friends First, is considering its obligations in conjunction with its own legal advisers and the Pension Scheme Trustees and cannot comment further at this time.”
The Byrne’s plight is similar to Celine Cawley’s daughter Georgia and brother Chris who have fought, and lost, a High Court battle to prevent Lillis getting half of the couple’s joint assets since his imprisonment.
Lillis had served five years for her manslaughter and has a stash of €1.3m in his bank account, all of which has been netted since his wife’s death.
The money includes his share from the sale of their palatial Howth home, €358,505 from the liquidation of his wife’s television production company, €131,500 from the sale of an investment apartment they owned in Sutton and about €22,000 in investment bonds.
Mr Byrne said the ruling in the Cawley case has tied the hands of RPS pension trustees, who have done their best to resolve the issue.
He said the family do not even want the cash but would put it back in the pension for other workers, but have been told it would cost €100,000 to take a case.
“The trustees of the pension have been very considerate to us as family members, and have done everything in their power to try and come this far with us. Unfortunately the legal system and the legislator who have left everybody down,” he added.
Mr Byrne had emailed Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and every member of the Oireachtas Justice Committee about the issue, as well as the Department of Social Protection.
“I think it’s a battle that needs to be won. I hope they do listen to us, it’s not just our families,” he said.
“Any of the families in this country who have suffered a spouse killing a spouse are actually in this dilemma and it’s only a couple of us who are prepared or even have the courage to be able to do this.”
Mr Byrne said the murder conviction exonerated his brother and lifted a burden on the family.
“In seven years, which is two years to come, she will be eligible to apply for parole and finding out that the trustees of the pension are obliged to pay her for committing a murder which she turned around in her statement to the police and said the only reasons why she murdered him was for financial gain,” he continued.
“She got exactly what she wanted.”
The Department of Justice said the Law Reform Commission is currently reviewing the law and is expected to submit recommendations in July.
"It is the Government's intention to bring forward legislation based on recommendations later this year," he added.